At CFSBK, we discourage members from failing slow lifts—squats, presses, and deadlifts—on a regular basis. Of course, failing is an inevitable part of training for experienced CrossFitters, since we want to push our limits and really discern our capacity. But the key is that it’s inevitable for experienced CrossFitters. We particularly encourage new members at CFSBK not to hit failure on their lifts for at least four to six months of consistent training, since they don’t have a solid enough foundation to be working with training maxes. In this week’s article, we'll talk about hitting failure on lifts and how it relates to gym culture, safety, and training appropriateness.
CFSBK has been offering Open Gym (OG) hours twice per week for a few years now. OG is an opportunity for your members to perform some independent programming, while a coach monitors their training, in an environment that doesn't interfere with normal group classes. This class style is hugely successful and very appreciated, especially by our most senior members. In this article, I’ll discuss more of our rationale behind creating OG hours for our members, and explain how to execute these sessions well.
Why Open Gym?
If it hasn't happened at your affiliate already, you will encounter athletes who want to do their own programming. From an affiliate owner’s and coach’s perspective, allowing anyone to freelance their own programming, especially during normal group class hours, is a recipe for disaster on numerous levels. One, the coach will be unable to monitor what that person is doing, which could lead to safety issues. Two, the space and equipment needs of said people could interfere with what the group class is doing, especially in smaller gyms. Third, this becomes a slippery slope for other members—perhaps even inexperienced members—who will start asking to do their own programming because they see other people doing it. As coaches, its our job to teach movement and facilitate intelligent training at our affiliates, so letting people program for themselves impairs not only our ability to do our jobs well, but also our ability to control the movement quality and overall training culture at the gym.
Last year, CFSBK hosted the live announcement, demonstration, and after party for Workout 13.2 of the 2013 CrossFit Open. With the 14.1 announcement happening today, we'd thought we'd offer a sneak peak about our experience hosting last year.
It all started with a rather cryptic email from Dave Castro, asking if our gym would be available on a particular day for HQ to use. I called Adrian Bozman (an honorary member of CFSBK’s motorcycle crew) to see if he knew anything about it and he suggested it was regarding the upcoming Open announcements. Naturally, I was stoked. Dave confirmed that was the case when we finally spoke, and as we started making arrangements, he told me to keep it a secret until he would announce the venues on the Games site. That part wasn’t awesome, since I wanted to tell everyone!
We closed down our gym on Tuesday, March 12 because CrossFit HQ needed to set up all the live-streaming technology. That day, the athletes—Annie Thorisdottir and Lindsey Valenzuela—came in to see the space and hung out with our coaches. CrossFit HQ staff also visited and we all shared a meal that evening. The energy and excitement the day before was almost as awesome as the event itself.
That Wednesday evening, we set up a holding area at Littlefield NYC, a bar across the street from CFSBK, and when everything was ready, the crowd spilled into the gym. Because parking lots and open areas outside gyms pretty much don’t exist in NYC given how limited everyone is on space—and because we had to obey New York’s occupancy laws—we gave out 350 tickets to the event ahead of time. A bunch of CrossFit web-lebrities attended along with our members and others, including Dave, Adrian, Rory Mckernan, E.C. Synkowski, Travis Bagent, Sevan Matossian, and the man himself, Greg Glassman. It was a tight fit, but luckily, only a couple of cops showed up. Of course, they were also CrossFitters and were more interested in taking pictures with Annie than enforcing any laws.
One of my favorite parts of the whole shebang involved taking Dave, Adrian, and Rory to a stereotypical Brooklyn hipster barbershop to get haircuts and straight razor shaves before the event. You can see some of the behind the scenes events on this HQ video. We also hosted a super fun after party on Wednesday, which lots of folks stuck around for.
All told, we were incredibly honored and excited to put on this event with CrossFit HQ and our neighbors at Littlefield NYC. It was the first year that each Open workout was announced live at various affiliates. Good luck to all the affiliates that are hosting this year! It's going to be a great experience, and we can't wait to watch all the announcements go down this year.
To see the entire photo set from the event, click here!
In our popular article "The Benefits of Leveled Programming," we discussed how CFSBK offers two different levels of programming to accommodate the varied needs and goals of our athletes. Fitness programming is a more basic version of the day’s WOD, while Performance caters to our more advanced athletes. Regardless of their differences, both levels of programming happen within a planned eight-week training cycle. In today's article, I’ll discuss this programming template and its benefits.
Above is a three-and-a-half minute clip taken from a 20-minute lifting segment we shot. We focused the video on just my talking points to demonstrate how we break down group instruction during Olympic lifting segments in group classes. As discussed in our article "Using Time Stamps to Manage Group Classes," you need to have consistent and effective time management strategies to get large volumes of people through each class in a clear and practical way. That article addressed our time stamps in general, but leading lifting segments for Olympic lifts is a bit more nuanced. You need to take classes through synchronized skill work as a group in order to effectively communicate points of performance.